Purpose: The typical leg bypass surveillance program begins with a duplex scan evaluation of the vein graft 3 months after surgery; studies are repeated every 3 months during the first year of follow-up and are fully reimbursed by our Medicare carrier. Some authors have recommended early (before discharge or first postoperative visit) duplex scanning to identify high-risk grafts. However, the natural history of velocity disturbances detected with early scans is unclear, and furthermore, such studies are not reimbursed by Medicare. Methods: We reviewed all infrainguinal vein bypass grafts prospectively entered into a surveillance protocol that included an early (<6 weeks) duplex scan study. Routine completion angiography was performed at the initial operation in all patients. Early duplex scan results, the need for graft revision, and detailed follow-up of these bypass grafts were analyzed. Results: Early duplex scans were performed in 224 bypass grafts placed in 204 patients. Early scans were abnormal (peak systolic velocity [PSV], >200 cm/s) in 58 grafts (26%). Six grafts of the 58 (10.3%; 2.7%) with an early abnormal duplex scan and unrepaired defects occluded during the follow-up period. Thirty grafts were revised on the basis of the initial early scan; 23 of these revisions were performed for critical or rapidly progressive lesions in the first 3 postoperative months. Seven lesions progressed more slowly and were repaired at a mean of 8 months after surgery. Interestingly, 22 flow abnormalities (37%) resolved or stabilized despite a PSV of more than 300 cm/s in six cases (27%). Clear duplex scan evidence of regression or progression of these early flow abnormalities occurred within 3 months in 51/58 cases (88%). A total of 68 grafts (30%) were revised during the entire study period; 30 of these (44%) were on the basis of the early abnormal scan. Conclusion: Despite normal completion arteriography, early graft velocity abnormalities are strikingly common and were detected in 26% of the 224 infrainguinal vein grafts in this series. These lesions were clinically important because 52% necessitated revision. Surprisingly, however, 38% of these early flow disturbances resolved, despite a PSV of more than 300 cm/s in 27% of cases. Early duplex scan surveillance singularly detects a clinically significant subgroup of grafts that need revision. The possible origin of these early lesions deserves further inquiry, but on the basis of its clinical yield, we recommend that early duplex scan surveillance of infrainguinal bypass grafts should be routine and should be considered for Medicare reimbursement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine